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Distinguishing keys

26 Apr 2012 05:30 | Quote
Joined: 27 Jan 2012
United States
Licks: 1
Hey guys, I'd like to be able to jam w/ someone simply by ear. I don't want to count on seeing what chords and what progression they're playing. Have any tips to be able to train my ears for that? Thanks!
26 Apr 2012 12:38 | Quote
Joined: 03 Sep 2010
United States
Licks: 3
Karma: 22
Just do it. Don't think just play. See what happens. There is no rules to playing by ear. But for training,jam along to your favorite songs,and play things you think sound good. Try to find the note/key the song revolves around from there.

26 Apr 2012 12:53 | Quote
Joined: 28 Apr 2010
United States
Karma: 11
I'd love to hear a Helpful answer to this too!
26 Apr 2012 13:31 | Quote
Joined: 27 Jan 2010
United States
Lessons: 4
Karma: 1
What I do currently is try to establish what type of scale is being played, is it major or minor; then, I try to find "do". I still have not developed my ear yet. But the best way to train the ear is to sight sing using the Solfeggio.

Don't know how helpful that is.
26 Apr 2012 13:58 | Quote
Joined: 25 Jul 2007
United States
Lessons: 12
Licks: 42
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I think "jamming" is very subjective to the individual. Some people jam via making stuff up, other people jam via improvising on an existing tune. I'm sure you've all heard a thousand minute Satch jam on Purple Haze or whatever.

I think you really just need a basic understanding of how to build chords and how to play a few scales. I personally don't like to just "make stuff up" when I jam. I'll sit down and work out a few chords, based on theoretically correct progressions, then throw some licks on top.

That being said, it really is subjective. But here is something you can chew on that may or may not help.

I'd first start with your chords. You don't need to "build" them, you just need to know what you are playing. And of course what you actually play, depends on other instruments and players you are jamming with.

Take something simple, like an E minor chord:


Then think about what you can pull from that chord or what else can that chord be? i.e. what notes are missing to make this "fit"?

I don't know any good way to describe this, so I will sort of draw what my thought process might be for something like this.

E minor,

D:-2 ----------------> E B E G B E

E Aeolian - E F# G A B C D

G Major Key

G Am Bm C D Em F#dim


Gmaj7 Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 Dmaj7 F#m7b5

G Major - G A B C D E F#

Em Gmaj7 Em9 Bm Bsus4

Bsus4 Asus2

I've just devised six chords which I can use to create some kind of chord progression. Next you have to think about scales.

This is where it really helps to know a few things. Such as:

MELODIC MINOR. When you see a 7th or a maj7 or a dim chord, you should immediately think, Melodic Minor.

This is where people get confused. Jamming is NOT just playing what feels good or right, or just making stuff up. You do really need to understand a little theory to jam efficiently.

Some scales I might consider would be:

E Melodic Minor
E Aeolian
G Ionian
F# Locrian

Here is a little chart that should help you understand chords better as well as understanding "scale usage" better:

The I Chord: C E G Cmaj
1 3 5

The ii Chord: D F A Dmin
1 b3 5

The iii Chord: E G B Emin
1 b3 5

The IV Chord: F A C Fmaj
1 3 5

The V Chord: G B D Gmaj
1 3 5

The vi Chord: A C E Amin
1 b3 5

The vii Chord: B D F Bdim (remember the vii or 7th chord, is almost always dimished)
1 b3 b5

If you're looking at that chart, you can see, and first you have to be able to decipher the key, that with a vi chord, you should be able to play a minor scale.

I know that I typed this in another thread AND made a lesson on it, but here is an excerpt from the lesson:

"Right, so there is a the old saying, "If it sounds good, it is good."

That is all good and dandy if you know what sounds good. If you don't, you are just as lost. That being said, there is always more than one option when deciding on what scale to use over a chord or progression. More to the point, I've come up with a simple excersise to help a player actually learn what sounds good and what doesn't.

Grab a pen and piece of paper. Pick a chord, any chord, but just one chord. Record yourself playing that one chord over and over. Or just once or twice and loop it. Next pick five modes and, don't solo per say because you want to really hear what you are doing, play them over your one chord. Play them one after the other. Or play all the modes in every key. But play them so you can clearly hear what they sound like. Now write down, and this is why I said pick five, what each one sounds like over that chord. I.e. "good", "bad", "cool sounding", "sad sounding", whatever. Now pick two chords and repeat the process. Except this time you can experiment a little. Play the chords however you'd like. As arppeggios or whatever you want. Play the same scales over just your two chords and write down what it sounds like. This time however, pay close attention to how two chords sounds different under the same scale as one chord does. Or how a particular mode is more suited for a particar note in one of the chords.

The goal of this is to hopefully help you understand exactly what effect particular chords and scales have on each when played in conjunction with one another. Now you will no longer have to waste time guessing and checking when all you really want to do is record. You will now know what a certain scale will sound like, when played over a certain chord or even more specific, what certain intervals will sound like when played together as a harmony or when played seperate as melodies."

You can check out the whole lesson HERE

I hope you found that helpful.

Rock on!
27 Apr 2012 04:42 | Quote
Joined: 23 Jun 2008
Lessons: 4
Karma: 35
I just say simply, Jam, Jam and jamjam... its a whole different stuff than playing pre-learned songs. Slinger gave very good explanation there and I wish to point out to that you should know scale to jam, so if your band or a person just jam whatever chords to come mind its harder to follow, but If you know what scale are in jam you can adjust theory easily to your improvisation.

FiniteZer0 says:
ry to establish what type of scale is being played, is it major or minor; then, I try to find "do".!

I definately underline this. Learn your scales and it just come naturally, but I recommend to jam... A LOT!, because with training you get along to it.

Also, I jammed a lot, actually its just my favorite thing to do with guitar and I found that if backingtrack or who or band there is, if "song" is well constructed you just find it so easy to jam that it sounds "legit", If its not you find it hard to jam. Imho.

Gl m8
18 Jun 2012 10:14 | Quote
Joined: 11 Jan 2012
Licks: -3
Karma: 4
two chords vamps, maybe whit an extension of a ii-V-I in a key you all had agree to play in....

two chords vamp will give you a lot of fun and interssting scale to choose...

18 Jun 2012 11:12 | Quote
Joined: 10 May 2009
United States
Karma: 8
learn your major scale solfege. do, re, mi, fa, sol, la ,ti, do. sing the basic chords from those. I, IV, V, vi, ii. that should help you figure out progressions. You should also learn your intervals by slofege maj an min. the minor solfege is do, re, me, fa, so, le, te, do. I sure you can find out more about ear training online.

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